The Quaternary rocks of Ireland are dominated by glacial deposits mostly dating from the last glaciation or glacial cycle. The glaciation of Ireland occurred under optimum conditions of precipitation supply from the northeast Atlantic Ocean. The geomorphology of Ireland that consisted of a vast lowland and peripheral mountain blocks resulted in the development of a major ice-sheet over the central Irish lowlands while individual mountain centres nourished their own ice-caps. The lowland ice sheets dominated each glaciation and probably interacted dynamically with the more transient upland ice caps. During the maximum extent of the Pleistocene ice-sheets and with the notable exceptions of the highest Cork-Kerry, Wicklow and Donegal mountains all of Ireland was ice-covered. Glaciation was further enhanced by ice from Scotland and the Irish Sea Basin that crossed the Irish coastline on several occasions.
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A revised correlation of Quaternary deposits in the British Isles
Realization that continental records of Quaternary rocks were more complex that hitherto believed came with the re-interpretation of oxygen isotope stratigraphy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This necessitated a comprehensive re-evaluation that has been assisted by the emergence of new geochronological methods for terrestrial as well as land-sea correlations. The current state of such correlations is presented in this revised set of proposals for correlations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which also includes the Quaternary geology of the continental shelf. Correlation with the global standard of oxygen isotope stratigraphy enables the significance of British lithostratigraphical units to be appreciated in a wider context that includes the evolution of the climate system on the margin of the northeast Atlantic Ocean. It thus provides timely British data for the international palaeoceanographical and palaeoclimatological community and the correlations proposed are primarily on Milankovitch timescales. But their appearance coincides with the early stages of a paradigm shift to the search for both terrestrial and land-sea correlation on millennial timescales and then on centennial and decadal ones. This is the first of many similar terrestrial and land-sea correlations.